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Guild 01

Guild 01 photo
Guild 01

Don't forget: Every Guild 01 and 02 3DS game is on sale


Until February 23rd
Feb 20
// Chris Carter
Weapon Shop de Omasse, the one missing game that needed to be localized to complete Level-5's Guild 01 and 02 collections on the 3DS eShop, is finally here. But if you haven't checked out the rest of the pack, they're al...

Review: Weapon Shop de Omasse

Feb 20 // Kyle MacGregor
Weapon Shop de Omasse (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: Level-5, Nex EntertainmentPublisher: Level-5Release: February 20, 2014MSRP: $7.99 Weapon Shop de Omasse puts a new spin on saving the world. It takes a page from titles like Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale, playing off classic role-playing games by focusing on unsung heroes: the humble storekeeper. This time around, you're put to work in a family-owned smithy wherein you'll get a behind-the-scenes look at fantasy adventure whilst crafting weaponry for any would-be heroes that pass through your doors. Unlike the other titles in the Guild series, Weapon Shop de Omasse doesn't come from a high profile director like Goichi Suda or Keiji Infaune, but that isn't to say the creator isn't famous in his own right. The title comes from Yoshiyuki Hirai, one half of the comedy group American Zarigani. Does that seem odd? Most definitely. The frontman's humor definitely works in the game's favor though. And the rest of package isn't half bad either. Actually, it's pretty great. I suppose I should mention that this is a rhythm game. The basic gameplay boils down to tapping the Nintendo 3DS' touchscreen, simulating a hammer striking sheets of molten metal. Players will strip away excess material, pounding away to a beat, while weapons begin to take shape. In addition to keeping time, players will need to move the stylus around the screen and trace out the form of a spear or axe -- or what have you. Piled on top of that is a temperature gauge that can be controlled with fire and water, adding a third layer of complexity to the experience. How well you manage to fire on all these cylinders will have an impact on how a project turns out. A weapon's critical hit rate, durability, special properties, strength, and sharpness all depend on your ability to multitask during the smithing process.  Producing quality work is definitely in your interest. You'll be renting your creations out and customers only pay after successfully returning from a quest. Should they fall in battle, well, say goodbye to that shoddy sword and any payment you were planning on receiving. More often that not, though, heroes will return with a stack of money and some new materials you can put to good use making more awesome stuff. In terms of the music accompanying all the hammering and polishing, it's kind of all over the place. There are some winners, like the God Hand-esque piece sampled in the trailer below, but the soundtrack is generally pretty forgettable. Along with the equally decent, if somewhat lackluster, visuals, the beats are one of the weaker aspects in an otherwise exemplary package. [embed]270845:52658:0[/embed] The real star of the show is the story and characterization. Weapon Shop de Omasse plays with the conventions of a JRPG, constantly poking fun at familiar tropes in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. The experience is just saturated with pithy remarks and clever dialogue that will have virtually anyone with any sense of familiarity with the genre chuckling in no time. It's pretty clear that this game was created by a comedian. And that's part of the reason why it took so long to make the jump to western shores. The sheer amount of text in the game is pretty astounding, considering the size and scope of the Guild games, but localizing humor can be a daunting task. It requires far more than a quick and dirty translation. And it's clear that Level-5 cared enough to take its time and create something special. That dedication really shows in the writing. Weapon Shop de Omasse's colorful cast of misfits is what makes the game such a joy. The regulars at your store all seem to have an abundance of character and back story, whether its a samurai whose swords were confiscated at customs or a nondescript NPC making self-deprecating remarks about how he spends his days walking back and forth around town. While most of the hilarity occurs within the friendly confines of the shop, there's an amusing in-game version of Twitter that's sure to dispense a few laughs as well. The Grindcast provides an ever-present feed of updates from your customers as they're out in the field.  You'll be able to track their sagas and see their inane thoughts on how things are going.  Complete with hashtags and all, Grindcast provides an ever-present feed of updates from your customers as they're off questing with your weapons. You'll be able to track their progress and see their thoughts on how things are going, which provide commentary on JRPGs that should bring a few chuckles to fans of the genre and detractors alike. It's really quite charming. Weapon Shop de Omasse is a breezy rhythm game, brimming with humor targeted at JRPG fans. I realize that's a niche within a niche, and it certainly won't be for everyone, but I loved it. And if that bizarre concept sounds even vaguely interesting, I bet you'll love it too.
Weapon Shop review photo
Sharpest tool in the shed
Level-5's Guild series started out as a bizarre anthology of pint-sized experiences from industry veterans. Initially released in Japan during the spring of 2012, the package would come to western shores later that year. Well...

Weapon Shop de Omasse photo
Weapon Shop de Omasse

Weapon Shop de Omasse to be released this month


Coming February 20th
Feb 13
// Chris Carter
When the Guild 01 and 02 Collections dropped overseas, we were missing one game -- Weapon Shop De Omasse. We already reported that the lack of a localization was due to a large amount of text, but eventually I guess the juice was worth the squeeze, and it was announced for a worldwide release. Billed as a "comedic RPG," Omasse will be released on February 20th on the 3DS eShop.

Weapon Shop De Omasse photo
Weapon Shop De Omasse

Guild 01's missing Weapon Shop game getting localized


Weapon Shop De Omasse
Jan 09
// Chris Carter
America may have gotten the vast majority of Level-5's Guild 01 and Guild 02 collections, but it was missing one game -- Weapon Shop De Omasse. According to Level-5, the game would have taken far too long to localize given al...
Level-5 game sales photo
Level-5 game sales

Layton series has sold over 15 million units


Level-5 also reveals sales of Ni no Kuni, Inazuma Eleven, and the Guild games
Aug 28
// Tony Ponce
Level-5 has kicked the fans in the collective nuts with the complete tonal shift that is Layton 7. That must mean the games are on their last legs and can no longer make bank on Nintendo handhelds alone, right? Not likely if ...

Review: BUGS vs. TANKS!

Jun 24 // Chris Carter
BUGS vs. Tanks! (3DS)Developer: ComceptPublisher: Level-5Released: June 20, 2013MSRP: $7.99 Given how easily the World War II time period could have overstayed its welcome, I'm glad Inafune opted for a quick setup and very little story. Simply put, you're a soldier in a shrunken German panzer squad, and the local insects are looking at you for their next meal. Your battlefield isn't a famous war-torn European city but a completely foreign jungle of grass and dirt, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids style. You'll defend yourself with a battalion of tanks with fairly straightforward controls -- your only real abilities are moving, pivoting, firing, and a "once per level" artillery power. By default, your tank will utilize an automatic fire mode to constantly shoot enemies in range; you're going to want to go ahead and turn that off and jack up the difficulty (you can always switch back), because this game is best experienced when its insects are genuinely terrifying. Though the fundamentals and the animations are pretty basic, the game's realistic-looking bugs can get pretty nerve-wracking, especially in swarms. They're extremely relentless and most won't stop until your dead, even if you're backed into a corner begging for breathing room, unable to get a clear shot. The game's brutal difficulty, although frustrating at times due to some occasionally cheap AI, is one of my favorite aspects. Once you're off the battlefield and hitting the game's menus, you'll learn that BUGS vs. Tanks! has a surprising amount of depth. For each tank, you can customize the rate of fire, chassis, and more. The actual tanks themselves are modeled after real vehicles in history, which helps give the game a bit more character. Along with changing in difficulty setting or automatic/manual fire, you can make it feel like a completely different game, which is pretty remarkable. But what you can actually do with these tanks is extremely limited. Missions are pretty standard -- base defense, item collection, kill quests, and things like that. To be blunt, there's really not anything that you haven't seen a million times before, lending itself to something best played in short spurts. Thankfully, no one mission overstays its welcome too often, as these levels are extremely short, and each of the 29 (with 10 bonus) stages feel different enough from one another to justify themselves. There's also a local multiplayer function that allows you to play with three other friends, as well as a fun little StreetPass mechanic that lets you call in extra artillery fire. In terms of visuals, while I never really had any issues telling enemies and areas apart, BUGS vs. TANKS! is extremely unimpressive without the 3D effect on. It looks similar to a low-budget PS1 game, with jagged edges, plain backgrounds, and generally stale models. While I don't have a problem with a low graphical output, given the high quality in the other Guild games, it looks odd when juxtaposed with the total body of work and will disappoint anyone expecting a little more. Like a few of the other Guild offerings, BUGS vs. TANKS! isn't remarkable, but it's a great way to pass the time over the course of a few days. Whether you want to casually roll through and blow up some insects on the easy setting, or wrack your brain to test your mettle with manual shooting and an insanely difficult campaign, BUGS vs. TANKS! offers a little something for everyone.
BUGS vs. TANKS! review photo
Honey, we shrunk the soldiers
The idea of shrinking objects and placing them into ridiculous situations is not new. But in the case of Comcept and Keiji Inafune's BUGS vs. TANKS!, it's somehow fitting to pit a tiny World War II German tank battalion again...

Review: The Starship Damrey

May 18 // Tony Ponce
The Starship Damrey (3DS eShop)Developer: Level-5Publisher: Level-5Release: May 16, 2013 (US / EU)MSRP: $7.99 You wake up trapped in a cryogenic sleep capsule with no memory of who you are or how you got there. You discover you are on board the Damrey, a research vessel floating in the far reaches of space, but something has happened to the ship and its crew. Since you are unable to exit your pod, you must remotely operate one of the ship's AR Series robots. They can only turn 90 degrees, which makes navigating around fallen debris quite cumbersome. Furthermore, they can only carry one item at a time, essentially limiting the complexity of any of the "puzzles." The game's biggest problem isn't that you aren't given any instruction on what to do or where to go -- that's the hook, after all. Rather, the solutions are so simple and telegraphed that the game might as well be feeding the answers. Considering that you typically can't drop an item once in your possession, you can safely assume that your next task will involve that very item. [embed]253991:48697:0[/embed] If you had dreams of managing multiple inventory slots, weeding out red herrings, and discovering alternate puzzle solutions, allow me to stamp them out right now. There is only ever one right way. It's akin to locking a person in an empty room save for a key in the corner, then telling the person to "figure it out" without any further clues. Okay, maybe not that simple, but close enough. The most difficult part is probably the opening scene in which you have to figure out how to reboot the corrupted computer console -- an admittedly clever sequence that is never trumped. Afterward, the bulk of your time is spent rolling through darkened hallways, looking for tools, corpses, and notes lying about. But ignoring the core gameplay, you'll find that The Starship Damrey does succeed in being a tense, moody experience. When I say the ship's halls are dark, I mean pitch black. Equipped with a low-power flashlight, your robot typically can only see a few feet in front or glowing signs and panels in the distance. And dogging your search is the ghostly specter of a young girl in a sun hat, fueling the mystery of the crew's fate. There's even a humorous interlude that parodies the famous "Blue Danube" scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Sure, it completely breaks the tone of the game, but it's nonetheless entertaining as a one-off. Figuring time spent wandering around aimlessly in search of objects hidden in the shadows, the game will last you no more than three to four hours. However, if you happen to own any of the three Guild01 titles -- Liberation Maiden, Aero Porter, or Crimson Shroud -- you'll unlock a bonus scene upon completion. There's also an additional bonus should you accomplish an optional late-game task. Sadly, both are text-only prologue chapters that don't add anything substantial to the narrative. Despite being entertaining in its own way, The Starship Damrey ultimately fails to provide a hardcore, old-school adventure as promised. There's potential for an even more expansive campaign, which I hope Level-5 explores one day -- if Liberation Maiden can get a sequel, so can this! For now, rein in your expectations.
Starship Damrey review photo
Lost in space
"This game contains no tutorials or explanations. Part of the experience is to discover things for yourself." Thus reads the disclaimer when you fire up a new game of The Starship Damrey, Level-5's atmospheric sci-fi adventur...

The Starship Damrey photo
The Starship Damrey

Launch trailer for Guild02's The Starship Damrey


The sci-fi eShop adventure is on sale right now
May 16
// Tony Ponce
The first in Level-5's Guild02 triple pack, The Starship Damrey, arrived on the 3DS eShop earlier today for $7.99. A new trailer for the moody sci-fi adventure game has surfaced, featuring choice words from game designer Kaz...
Guild03? photo
Guild03?

Is Level-5 about to announce Guild03?


Trio of Level-5 trademarks have suddenly appeared
May 04
// Tony Ponce
With the three Guild02 games already out in Japan and the first in the set, Starship Damrey, scheduled for release in the States on May 16, it's time to look towards he future. It's never too soon to start thinking "sequel"! ...
Guild02 photo
Guild02

Starship Damrey flies to Nintendo 3DS on May 16


First Guild02 title lands on eShop in a couple weeks
May 04
// Kyle MacGregor
The Starship Damrey is set to touch down on the Nintendo 3DS eShop in North America on May 16. A survival horror title designed by Kazuya Asano and Takemaru Abiko, it will be the first title from Level-5's Guild02 c...
Guild02 photo
Guild02

Nintendo Direct: All three Guild02 games coming to US


Yes, even Attack of the Friday Monsters!
Apr 17
// Tony Ponce
It was previously announced that two of the three games in Level-5's Guild02 compilation, Bugs vs. Tanks! and The Starship Damrey, would be localized for the US eShop. Missing from that news was any indication that ...
Guild02 photo
Guild02

Feast on vids for Guild02's Monsters Come Out on Friday


It's like a Studio Ghibli take on kaiju movies
Mar 17
// Tony Ponce
Of the three games announced as part of Level-5's Guild02 lineup, Kaiju ga Deru Kinyoubi ("Monsters Come Out on Friday) sounded the most fascinating. A game in which you play as a boy in a small town turned upside-down by a ...
Guild02 photo
Guild02

Level-5 files trademark for Guild02 3DS games in USA


North American release for Bugs vs. Tanks! and The Starship Damrey looks likely
Mar 08
// Kyle MacGregor
It looks like Level-5's Guild02 compilation might be headed for western shores. Siliconera has reportedly uncovered US trademarks for Bugs vs. Tanks! and The Starship Damrey, indicating a po...
Guild02 photo
Guild02

These are the three games in Level-5's Guild02


Will be broken apart as eShop releases throughout March
Feb 21
// Tony Ponce
Three of the four titles from Level-5's 3DS game jam Guild01 made it to the eShop out West. Liberation Maiden, Aero Porter, and Crimson Shroud were all bizarre but solid experiences, and I'm extremely grateful that they were...
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Guild01 game Aero Porter lands on 3DS November 29


The second of three Guild01 selections
Nov 16
// Dale North
Level-5 already treated us with Liberation Maiden, and now another of the Guild01 games is headed our way later this month. Aero Porter, an airport management puzzler, comes out on November 29 in North America and Europe on N...

Review: Liberation Maiden

Nov 02 // Tony Ponce
Liberation Maiden (3DS eShop)Developer: Grasshopper Manufacture, Level-5Publisher: Level-5Release: October 25, 2012MSRP: $7.99 A century from now, a war-hungry nation known as the Dominion attempts to annex Japan in order to drain the land of its natural energy. The Japanese government decides that the best way to combat this threat is to adopt a Metal Wolf Chaos brand of foreign policy -- give the President a giant mech. Thus, the government is restructured, the Prime Minister position is dissolved, and a President of New Japan is elected. Unfortunately, President Yokuichiro Ozora is assassinated before he could fulfill his duties. In what was obviously the only sensible decision for the sake of national security, his high school daughter Shoko is elected Second President and charged with piloting the Liberator "Kamui," an aerial battle craft that draws its power from nature. [embed]237693:45600[/embed] Liberation Maiden plays a lot like a scaled-down Zone of the Enders -- patrol the airspace above occupied cities and attempt missions that your navigator sporadically feeds you. Unlike ZoE's Jehuty, Kamui only has three types of actions. Using the circle pad, you can fly in any direction, and by holding down the L button, you can lock your view and strafe through the sky. To attack, drag the stylus across the touchscreen to lock onto any enemies in your cursor's path. This is the same "stick + stylus" control combo found in titles like Kid Icarus: Uprising and Dillon's Rolling Western. The limited number of available actions means that you ought to be able to find your "sweet spot" much easier than in the aforementioned games, but I wouldn't blame anyone for being initially turned off. But even if right-handed players can learn to mitigate hand strain, lefties are essentially hung to dry -- there's sadly no lefty option. Cramping concerns aside, attacking couldn't be any simpler. The main game screen is on top, so moving the cursor on the touchscreen won't impede your vision. You can lock onto several enemies at once, or you can pass over the same enemy multiple times to bombard it with back-to-back volleys. Once you lift the stylus, your missiles will automatically fire. Surrounding Kamui are a large number of Deflector Nodes that have both offensive and defensive capabilities. These nodes act as an overshield that prevent direct damage to the hull; the more enemy fire the nodes absorb, to more brittle the shield becomes. You can replenish the shield by scoring chain attacks, which gradually restore power to out-of-commission nodes. These same nodes double as your missile supply, which means that you are completely exposed while attacking or prepping for an attack. This also means that the more nodes you lose, the fewer enemies you can target in a single strike. It's a very clever risk system -- you can choose to stay well guarded by performing smaller attacks, or you can launch your full strength and rely on your maneuverability to keep yourself from harm. In the second stage, you gain a second, more powerful weapon: a focused laser. Similarly to how the missiles function, the duration of continuous laser fire is directly proportional to the number of Deflector Nodes still active. The laser is even riskier because you can't lock onto enemies and must instead manually maintain the cursor's position. This shifts a good deal of mental focus away from movement, increasing the likelihood that you'll take damage. There are only five stages in total, and your goal in each is to destroy three Conduit Spikes embedded into the surface before attacking a much more well-guarded Greater Conduit Spike. While you can easily breeze through all the stages in as little as half an hour, you can choose to explore each level thoroughly in search of enemy installations. Destroying these installations -- which include towers and bridges -- will restore a small patch of nature to the immediate area. The higher the percentage of purification by the level's end, the greater your score will be. You can also unlock concept art and additional backstory by completing specific tasks, ranging from performing all possible attack maneuvers at least once to achieving 100% purification in a level. The main campaign is so short yet packed with so much action in that brief period that it never feels like a waste of time and effort to attempt "just one more" achievement. Every goal is within short reach, compelling you to keep playing well after the credits roll. I wouldn't consider it a grand amount of replayability, but it's enough to satisfy anyone who enjoys their action games in quick, digestible bursts. For a small game that was originally part of a larger entity, Liberation Maiden is very polished. In addition to the animated opening and ending cutscenes, there's plenty of fully voiced dialog between Shoka and her First Secretary Kira, who also doubles as Shoka's navigator. Though the constantly repeated sound bites -- "Enemy missile closing in!" "We'll fight for our people!" "What a rush!" -- can be rather grating, it's lovely to see such care in making you feel like you're playing a sci-fi anime, right down to J-rock vocal songs that mark two major battles. What drags down the experience ever slightly is the fact that the Dominion is completely faceless. You see and hear a lot of Shoka and Kira, but you don't even get so much as idle radio chatter from the other side. It also doesn't help that Dominion machinery is utilitarian to a fault -- Conduit Spikes are literally giant, unadorned screws, for one. It's not a deal-breaker, but I'm just surprised that Suda 51 and Grasshopper Manufacture, known for birthing outrageous and memorable characters, would settle for such a plain antagonist. Liberation Maiden isn't Suda 51's crowning achievement or anything, but it is a simple, fun shooter with a clever offense-defensive mechanic and several coats of glossy finish. If you aren't bothered by the stick and stylus control scheme, you'll enjoy this hearty dose of anime mech action. Certainly, the remaining Guild01 games have a lot to live up to.
Liberation Maiden photo
Real ultimate executive power
The Japanese-exclusive Guild01 is a "game jam" of sorts that bundles four games created by four notable designers in a single collection, and aside from Level-5's co-operation in their development, they are wholly unrelated t...

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Is Level-5 localizing Guild 01 for the US?


Aug 14
// Tony Ponce
Guild 01, for those who have forgotten, is a recent Japanese 3DS title that features four original games by four different designers for one big jam session. The team includes Grasshopper's Suda 51, Seaman creator Yoot Saito,...
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[Update: I failed to catch the few seconds of Kaiho Shojo gameplay in this video. My mistake! Sorry internet!] While it's a shame that this interview-focused trailer hasn't been translated into English ye...

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Suda 51 and Seaman creator making the Four Rooms of games


Oct 13
// Jonathan Holmes
I love the 3DS for a lot of reasons. One of the biggest is that it's the last place for games that are not quite AAA budget HD titles, but not quite $1-$15 downloadable, to potentially thrive. With the PSP and the Wii both on...

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